Monday, October 27, 2014

Header (2006)

Header is a low-budget horror film about some hicks who like to have sex with unwilling partners’ heads. It opens with some deliberately scratchy footage to give the sense of the scene happening a while ago. A boy peeks through a door, witnesses two men acting upset. Then a woman runs through the woods. We’re not sure what’s happening, but suddenly it’s eleven years later.

ATF agent Stewart Cummings is dealing with a sick girlfriend and her mounting medical bills. Meanwhile Travis gets out of prison and goes home to his elderly grandfather, who has some sort of speech impediment and is missing the bottom half of his legs. Travis complains, “I got nothin’ goin’ for me, I mean, shit, Grandpap, I’s a loser.” Well, he’s been out of jail for like an hour or so, so I’m not exactly sure what he was expecting to happen. But no matter, he is a loser. The acting is terrible, which fits with the over-the-top dialogue about what Travis did in jail.

Stewart himself is not on the level. He’s supposed to be doing some sort of sting operation on some moonshiners in the area (yeah, seriously), but instead is taking money from them. He even says, “I’m a fed on the take.” Yeah, the dialogue is incredible. None of the characters is the least bit believable. But he needs the extra money for his girlfriend’s medication, so I suppose we’re encouraged to feel for him.

Travis picks up an eager hitchhiker who immediately admits she used to have a thing for him. He responds by punching her in the face and taking her home to Grandpappy. Grandpappy then drills a hole in her head and urges his grandson to fuck her in that hole while he watches. This should be shocking and creepy, but it just feels stupid. Travis says, “If there’s one thing I don’t need, it’s a bone splinter sliding into my dick.” If there’s one thing I don’t need, it’s dialogue written by a twelve-year-old. Well, Grandpappy acts as Travis’ personal cheerleading squad, urging him, “Hump that head, boy, hump it!” It’s obviously played a bit for comedy, except that it’s not funny. Grandpappy’s acting style reminds me of Edith Massey’s style in Pink Flamingos (with just as much subtlety).

Well, the film is full of dialogue about headers, about what they are, about why they happen, about how they’re so great, and so on. But Stewart is a little slow on the whole header thing. Even after finding two corpses with holes drilled in their heads and semen inside, he insists on asking, “What’s a header?” That way we can have even more dialogue about headers, about what they are, about why they happen, about how they’re so great, and so on. Supposedly, a header is a local means of getting revenge, but the revenge aspect isn't really developed.

By the way, Stewart isn’t trying to find the killers, but instead does some killing of his own. He’s just as despicable as anyone else in this film. As a side note, why does everyone drive on the grass in this film? Are there no roads? Well, Stewart finally begins his investigation by asking a random hitchhiker he happens to pick up if she knows Travis and where he might be staying. Fortunately, she does know all about Travis, and even gives him directions to his grandfather’s house. How convenient! Stewart’s investigation begins and ends with one brief conversation with a hitchhiker.

There are dramatic revelations, but who cares? We don’t like any of the characters, not even the sick girlfriend (and I started hating her long before the revelation that should cause us to hate her). This is a movie that began with one simple idea, and which was never developed any further.

Space Monster Gamera: Super Monster (1980)

Space Monster Gamera: Super Monster is the eighth film in the Gamera series, and in this one Gamera gets a new, fun theme song. I don’t speak a word of Japanese, and the song isn’t subtitled for some reason, but I can only imagine the lyrics are at least as good as those of Gamera’s previous theme (“You are strong, Gamera/You are strong, Gamera/You are strong, Gamera”).

The film begins with the opening shot from Star Wars, though this Star Destroyer isn’t chasing any Blockade Runner. Voice over tells us that this spaceship, named Zanon, has a mission to “take Earth under its control.”

Meanwhile crazy Japanese girls respond to noises that only they hear by grabbing their right earlobes and changing into their superhero outfits and flying up into the air. One of them, however, gets into her van (which, by the way, has pictures of cats on roller skates on the side), and it goes up into the air after turning into an orange splotch. All the girls meet in the splotch, where they hear a transmission aimed at the people of Earth. This guy knows there are space women there. So the three chicks change back into their street clothes to avoid detection.

Another space woman, Giruge, comes down from Spaceship Zanon. (Okay, we’re only like eight minutes into the movie, and it’s already completely off the rails.) Her orders are to “eliminate anyone and anything that may hinder our efforts here.” Pretty vague, but okay. She interprets the order as a call to electrocute a guy who asks her on a date.

Meanwhile three retarded boys go to a park in search of a character from a comic book one of them owns. They even have their own little retarded boy theme music. But when they find the guy they’re looking for, he tells them comic books are fiction. Speaking of retards, whoever wrote the subtitles doesn’t understand the difference between “hear” and “here.”

At this point the filmmakers apparently ran out of funding for the movie and were forced to start using footage from earlier Gamera films, like the terrible shot of the helicopter splitting in two, and then that beam splitting some cheap models of fighter planes into pieces. And that bat-like creature creating wind with its wings. This old footage is broken up by a shot of the main retarded boy singing Gamera’s new theme song to a turtle he was given by one of the space women. At his mother’s urging, however, he sets the turtle free in the river. He goes and plays the theme song for the space women. This is the third time we’ve heard this song in the first twenty-four minutes of the film, and I’m starting to enjoy it less.

Well, the spaceship Zanon can only find the space women when they have their superhero outfits on. Normal clothing confuses the spaceship. But for some reason they keep wanting to change into their superhero outfits anyway. Oh, girls love to play dress-up. It’s fun!

Gamera arrives, and the retarded boy believes it is his pet turtle that has changed into Gamera. The three space women think so too. Good thing the Earth isn’t relying on them to save it from the old monster footage! Speaking of old monster footage, we then get another scene from the third Gamera film where three guys in a red car pretend the car is moving while some crew members shake it, and that monster splits the car in half with its light beam. Gamera arrives to fight the monster. It’s the same footage used before, but now it’s set to disco music. So it’s improved!

Gamera defeats the monster exactly the same way he did in the third movie. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of footage from the other films to fill the ninety-two minutes of this piece of shit. Next up: Gamera Vs. Zigra, the seventh film (and the one I had considered the worst of the series until I saw this one). The retarded boy is at first frightened of the old footage, but the evil space woman tells him it will be all right. But is it all right to just take footage from several other movies and pass it off as a new movie? Is that entertainment? Well, I guess it’s fun to watch Gamera dance again.

This film then uses footage from Gamera Vs. Viras, the fourth movie in the series. So let’s see. They decided to make a new Gamera movie, and they started by created a new theme song for it, and then… Then I guess they considered their job finished.

There is more trouble with the subtitles. One space woman asks the others, “Have you both gotten your days om of work?” What does that mean? She also says, “Things are really happening fast.” Are they? Is she talking about some other film? And then she says, “Soon we’ll have to show yourselves.” Did she mean, “Soon we’ll have to show ourselves”? Or, “Soon you’ll have to show yourselves”? The second would be interesting, if she’s planning on sacrificing the other two in order to save herself.

Well, the retarded boy keeps the three good space women in a little case and takes them to the pet store. And the bad space woman proceeds to attack Earth with footage from Gamera Vs. Jiger. The three space women and the retarded boy watch the footage on a television screen, a way for the film to admit it’s reusing old footage. But then we’re forced to watch the television screen as well, which becomes redundant to such a degree that my brain begins to hurt. And… well, there’s more, but who cares? We’ve seen it all before.

Here's a question: Why didn’t the aliens just use their giant spaceship’s weapons to destroy Japan rather than sending one chick down there to control some old footage of monsters destroying Japan?

The good space women turn the bad space woman good, and then the retarded boy’s mother says that since the boy likes her she’s welcome to stay at their house as long as she wants to. But she wouldn’t let him keep a pet turtle? And at the end Gamera goes to fight the Star Destroyer, but the filmmakers apparently didn’t have enough money to actually shoot that scene and couldn’t find any similar footage in any of the earlier films. So there’s no battle scene. Instead the space women take the retarded boy flying over the city, like Superman took Lois Lane. Clearly, they have romantic feelings for him.

The end.